Daily Archives: June 17, 2008

Can’t touch this


Do you care what sex your doctor is? Or does it depend on the specialty? Personally, I refuse to see a male gynecologist. There is a part of me that feels that male gynos are just perverts in disguise. Men who want to spend all day looking at (and touching) women’s bodacious breeding equipment and get paid for it. Imagine them with their wives at home – intimacy must be so clinical…..shudder. Plus, as a woman, I feel a female gynecologist can understand my concerns better, seeing as she posesses a matching set of internal plumbing and can empathise with my concerns. With a male gyno I would be wondering if he is comparing my body with that of his wife, previous patient, or the playboy centerfold. (of course my whole hypothesis goes out the window if either party is gay, so for the sake of argument, this article only refers to straight people.)


I haven’t really thought through the other side – if you are a man, and have a female proctologist – I mean, are you guys really comfortable with that?  (I have this MadTV clip playing in my head now – Marvin Tikvah and Shelley the doctor “come on Shelley”)


I don’t much agree with segregating sexes in most things in life, but when it comes to being naked in front of another human being to whom you are NOT married but has to give you a complete physical, well I think both parties need to be of the same sex. Just the idea of a doctor lusting after me or any other patient is enough to give me the willies.


My ob/gyn is the best, she totally is. She held my hand through all my pregnancies and delivered #3 and #4, leaving an office full of other expectant moms to do so. #1 and #2 were delivered by male docs. Maybe it was just these two male docs that spoiled it for the rest, but oh my gosh was it an awful experience. The first, correctly deducing that I am British born and bred (hey did the accent give it away??) was making jokes about having tea and cucumber sandwiches, and flirting with the nurses when he should have been getting the baby out of me because it was tearing me in freaking two. The other was instructing a group of med students, and treated my birth canal as if it was common property – um hello, don’t I have a say in who gets to cross my thoroughfare? He also told me that I couldn’t possibly be in as much pain as I was. Let him pass a watermelon out his yingyang and then he can talk about pain.


And of course, there is the negiah issue. Yeppers. Is a doc of the opposite sex halachically allowed to touch you? Well, negiah, from what I am given to understand, is forbidden only if it is done b’derech chiba – in an affectionate manner. A prostate exam or a PAP test is hardly an act of love (although there are those people who like that kind of thing……ok lets not go there), but can there be anything more intimate than those kinds of examinations? How does a frum doctor manage it? What if the patient is a really gorgeous specimen and the doc has a slight crush? Or if the patient has a secret crush on the doc? (at one point my GP was a hunk, and every time I went to see him I would forget why I was there. I even referred to him among friends as Dr YummyBuns) Even on a less private level – a dentist has to touch you, right? Do super-religious folk only allow a same sex dentist to treat them, and if so – how many ultra orthodox lady dentists do you know?


I am a tactile person, and I feel touch in more than just a sensory manner. Maybe that makes me hypersensitive to this issue. If you are in the medical profession, or indeed any profession which involves physical contact, how do you deal with the issues I have raised? And if you are a patient, what are your views on the subject?

Choosing to be a single mom in the religious world

Over Shavuot we had an interesting discussion around the table at a friend’s house.  I have heard of some single women in large religious communities who are still unmarried in their mid to late thirties and feeling the tick tick tick of their biological clock, and have spoken to their rabbis about the ethics of having a baby through sperm donation.


I totally get these women – they desperately want a child, and mr right has not shown up, (or he has been and gone without them realizing it) and their child bearing years are coming to a close. What to do? In the secular world, many women would not think much more than twice about going to a sperm bank, or even (following a coronation street story line – I watch ‘em all) have a male friend help them out donation wise. Single mothers by choice are not the anomaly they once were. Plus these days we are so part of the NOW generation. I want a baby, I want it now, there is no man on the horizon, nor is there likely to be, I am out of patience, let’s go get me a baby.


(Let me just say that it is another thing if one finds oneself in a situation where one is pregnant and the father walks away from the responsibility. To me this is a totally different kettle of fish)


But this is the religious world I am talking about. There must be so many halachic issues here. So, the baby will have a Jewish mother, that makes it Jewish. It won’t be a “mamzer” because that only applies to the child of a married woman who becomes pregnant by a man other than her husband. The woman isn’t sinning because she is not having premarital sex. Does she have to ensure that the anonymous donor is NOT Jewish? Because if the donor were to be Jewish, then maybe one day the child may meet a sibling, not know it was a sibling, and fall in love.


Then, what would she tell the child? How would the child be treated in its religious school? The “acceptable” Jewish family is mom, dad and kids. Other children can be so mean. Would she be setting up her child for a lifetime of aggravation from his/her community. Would the child be accepted? What about the child’s emotional needs? doesn’t every child have the right to two parents, at least to start off life properly?


I also wondered, where is this woman’s emunah, faith, in G-d? Does she not trust that He will send her a husband when He decides it’s the right time? That if G-d decides she should have a child, then He will make it happen in the right way?


I have so many concerns about this, and am so curious as to what others think about it.  Those of you who live in Israel (or other places with a high concentration of Jews) – have you heard of cases like these? What have been the reactions of the community and rabbis? Please let me know your thoughts – I am sure this is a complicated topic.